THREE AMIGOS: London mayor Boris Johnson rubs shoulders with his new celebrity friends (PA)
HOLLYWOOD ACTOR Will Smith sent London schoolchildren enrolled in a leadership scheme into a frenzy with a surprise visit before going on to share some words of wisdom.
Last Friday (May 24), the celebrity, with his 14-year-old star son Jaden Smith in tow, told starstruck young people at City Hall what had inspired him to be a positive role model.
Recalling a pivotal moment in his own life, the I Am Legend actor recalled how as a teenage aspiring rapper his grandmother had found his lyrics notebook filled with rude words.
But instead of giving him a stern telling-off, "Grandma GG" instead left a message for him to reflect on: that truly intelligent people did not need to use that kind of language to express themselves.
The married father-of-four said: “When I read that, I made a decision in that moment that when I went into the world I wasn’t going to use any words that would disrespect my grandmother and my family.
"As I grew, it became about representing Philadelphia, my city, and then America... Today, I want to be an example of a what a positive, loving, successful human being does to make lives better for other people.”
Speaking directly to the young people, the 44-year-old, who rose to fame in iconic TV show The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, added: “One of the major aspects of leadership is setting an example; that what you believe is carried out in your actions.”
The actor, who was in the city to promote his upcoming sci-fi film After Earth, was invited to the end-of-term celebrations for the Mayor of London’s recently-launched £1.6 million Leadership Clubs.
It comes as a direct result of the education inquiry Boris Johnson commissioned last year and was chaired by Dr Tony Sewell, chief executive of Generating Genius.
The purpose is to help create leaders of tomorrow by focussing on pupils aged between 10 and 14-years-old who need extra support in bringing out their best as they make the transition from primary to secondary school.
SHOW TIME: Schoolchildren recreate the London skyline for Will and Jaden Smith during a drama performance (PA)
The clubs are run by four partner organisations which each use their own tried-and-tested methods to tackle key areas of leadership.
Children’s charity ARK - which runs a number of ARK primary and secondary school - will focus on young people at risk of exclusion, City Year London will provide volunteers to act as mentors and tutors, Eastside Young Leaders Academy will deliver a leadership programme exclusively for boys focussing on behavior and self-discipline and SHINE will work to develop English and maths skills.
It forms part of the mayor’s £40m education and youth investment programme and will run in 40 schools over the next three years to reach more than 1,000 young people.
The mayor told The Voice: “Leadership is about building up confidence in yourself, understanding how other people are relating to you and what you need to do in order to win their trust.
“With the right encouragement kids can go from being threatened by authority to being able to work with it and turn their lives around.”
When asked what made a good leader, Johnson said: “Being able to put yourself in other people’s shoes.”
He praised Smith and his Jaden for taking time to visit young people as a reward for their efforts.
But the Hollywood star who earlier this year made a surprise visit to a Brixton school during a tour of the “real London” told The Voice that it was his pleasure.
The I, Robot actor said: “I remember when I was growing up how much of a big deal it was to meet someone from TV and how powerful the experience was.
"I just like to be able to give back.”